Celebrity Endorsements: Do they guarantee success?

Tidal launch event on March 30, 2015.

Tidal launch event on March 30, 2015.

Back in late March, Jay-Z launched Tidal, a music streaming service. I didn’t see the press conference live, but I remember a friend saying “I’ve never seen so many celebrities on a stage looking so weird.” I recalled the hashtag, #TidalforAll on virtually all social media platforms and wanted to know if Tidal was a clothing line or an upcoming concert series.

AllHipHop » Watch A Live Stream Of Jay Z’s Special Announcement; Celebrities Promote His New Streaming Service With #TIDALforALL Hashtag Safari, Today at 3.39.34 PM

My friend’s comments lead me to YouTube, where I watched the launch event and I soon realized my friend was right. The stage was filled with some of the most influential musical artists in popular culture. You might be thinking, who was there? Well, there was Alicia Keys, Arcade Fire (members Win Butler and Régine Chassagne), Beyoncé, Calvin Harris, Chris Martin of Coldplay, members of Daft Punk, Deadmau5, Jack White, Jason Aldean, J. Cole, Jay Z, Kanye West, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, and Usher. All of these celebrities stood on the stage, and smiled for the cameras. After signing a declaration everyone walked off the stage.

I was confused as to why these musical powerhouses where there. After the launch event, I didn’t know about the details of the service, I just knew it was about music. I wondered why Jay-Z and his musical friends said nothing about what Tidal is/does, why Tidal is different and why consumers should care about Tidal.

My friend was right after all. What was the point of all these celebrities endorsing this service and appearing at this launch event? Yes, in some capacity they are shareholders of Tidal, but Tidal did not use the celebrity endorsements properly. In fact, Tidal received backlash on Twitter.

Has the Tidal backlash already begun? Safari, Today at 3.35.38 PM

Has the Tidal backlash already begun? Safari, Today at 3.36.40 PM

Has the Tidal backlash already begun? Safari, Today at 3.37.09 PM

The trending topic #TIDALforALL, quickly turned into #TIDALforNOONE because consumers thought the launch of Tidal was a gimmick to put more money in the pockets of the rich.

Perhaps the Tidal launch would have been more successful without the celebrity powerhouses. While celebrity endorsements can improve brand visibility to the target audience, a strong brand may not necessarily need a celebrity endorsement (Harrington, 2014). For example, Apple recently used celebrity endorsements for the iPhone, but that is not a typical strategy for the company. The Apple brand and the functionality of the products are strong enough where the use of celebrity endorsements is not a high priority for the brand.

What are your thoughts? Are celebrity endorsements the key to a successful marketing campaign?


Harrington, K. (2014, January 1). Save Your Money: Celebrity Endorsements Not Worth The Cost. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com.


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8 Responses to Celebrity Endorsements: Do they guarantee success?

  1. Leyla says:

    Hi Marnae!
    That is one of my favorite topics because for my entire professional life I was responsible for choosing right celebrities for right products. Actually what I think from just the sales and statistics – YES, if PR and Marketing teams did everything in a right way then effect from the endoresement will meet all expectations and if there was worng positioning and communication or the celebrity did not fit particular brand equite it will be a disaster. For instance, once I have selected celebrity for the tooth paste and we provided very strong communication and then sales went up disproportionally with double digits so it was obviously effect of the endoresement. But as a consumer I was once disappointed with the local brand which I liked when I saw that they made very strange choice of the celebrity. I started to think that may be if they do not have this common sense for marketing communication they may not be really good in the production process of the food they were producing. So, either in bad or good way celebrity endorsements matter for communication campaigns a lot from my POV.

  2. Alexis says:

    Hi Marnae,

    What a great article, I’m happy someone has decided to bring this topic up. I agree with those who are annoyed that these financial able artists are making a point to make even more money – however I understand that they are artists and want to get paid for their art (I don’t blame them for that). So, this really is a touchy topic. Taking out emotion what they failed to do was go after a saturated industry with plenty of existing competitors without giving us a reason to switch and start using and paying them. I personally use Spotify and pay 9 bucks a month and am very happy with the service, and have absolutely no reason to switch. Oh and did hear about this new platform, but had no idea when it launched and had little to no desire to look into it from the information I did hear about it. So basically Jay Z and team failed at converting me. If they would have given a compelling reason to make the switch or made it easy to convert all of my playlists, as well as given some proceeds to charity then maybe I would consider. But the reality is they were relying on the fact that a group of influential famous musicians backed it. I think this is a great example of how a good idea could fail drastically without good marketing – regardless of the celebrity endorser. If the idea/company does not appeal to consumers then it wont get the anticipated traction. I think this is also a good warning to marketers to really know and understand the key points of difference as well as the demographics of their targeted audience and how celebrities can help and what messages they should be sending out.

  3. Kelly says:

    Hi Marnae,

    Great post, I remember discussing the relevance and proper approach to celebrity endorsements in CMGT 510. Celebrity endorsements can help promote a certain product or service, however, as you mention in your post, this type of star-studded endorsement is not always the right marketing approach for a particular brand (e.g. Apple). Or, there is a potential that a celebrity is not the right spokesperson for the brand. Tidal is an interesting case. Considering that Jay-Z is already a substantial name to attract positive attention to the brand, it is interesting that he allotted to bring all of his celebrity friends on board for the launch. His name, with one or two votes of confidence from his celeb friends would’ve been plenty- he didn’t need a giant group of A-listers awkwardly standing around to launch his product. Additionally, the way that the launch was produced was a bit bizarre in that they did not provide any background as to why Tidal was better than other music sources and why they (as celebs) specifically support it. If they had, maybe the target audience would’ve been more receptive. Truthfully, it almost seemed like too much star-power in one room without any direction.

    Successful celebrity endorsements are ones in which the celebrity’s persona reflects and enhances the core competencies of the brand and is not subject to change at a whim. Celebrity endorsements can certainly help market a product or service due to audience recognition but it’s important that the celebrity accurately aligns with the brand’s vision/mission. For example, Julia Roberts (America’s Sweetheart) for Lancome makeup. She is a recognizable and trustworthy face that the target audience can relate to. Her reputation appears to be stable and credible which does not place the brand at risk for negative brand associations. Great discussion topic!


  4. Kelli says:

    That’s an insightful post. Endorsements can work to help tell a brand story and work with a product. When the story doesn’t come together it’s just a waste of time and resources. We live in such a celebrity world finding the right person to say what the brand stands for is also really difficult. Especially when the brand has a certain voice. Selling cupcakes and over priced lollipops for the Kardashians might be a good fit but I wouldn’t want them endorsing a technology or social movement. When Beckman endorsed H&M with a new product line it was great. There was a celebrity that could add credibility to the line. I think the net is when you can align a brand with a story and add some flavor with a celebrity it can be a winning formula. Unfortunately, for Tidal they hadn’t done the foundation work and all the star power went to waste.

  5. Jason Williams says:

    Nice post and I have often wondered about this. I mean, I always figured there is research to back this up due to the fact that corporations continually use celebrities. I will agree with your write up, Tidal seems to have flopped for all of the star power that was standing on the stage. One thing about Tidal, where I think the mistake was made… there is nothing there that is new. There are already several online music streaming sites. I think arrogance got in the way. Let’s get 10 famous music people to stand on stage and that should be enough… is this the thinking. They didn’t say anything significant, or anything. They did not introduce new technology or different. I think this is where the perception of ‘lining their pockets’ comes from.

    So I would agree with your friend, I see it as a situation to own something and think that your name will do the rest. Unless you can introduce something new or better than what I have already been using, I don’t care that you are a celebrity. In the end your money does not pay any of my bills and I can listen to your jams on my phone. No biggie.

  6. Jessica says:

    Hi Marnae,

    I liked the example of Jaz-Z and Tidal. I think in some cases celebrity endorsements can help a product- just look at Jay-Z’s other successful brands. However, I think the product and celebrity have to fully fit with one another to become successful. For example, Sophia Vagara doing an endorsement for Pepsi has little impact because the Sophia Vagara brand does not really associate well with a soft drink. On the other hand, her endorsement of Cover Girl goes a long way as she is certainly associated with beauty. Ultimately though if the product is bad consumers will not buy in, no matter who is telling them it’s cool.

  7. Jessica says:

    Marnae, great topic choice and insights. I think that this is a prime example of celebrity endorsements gone totally wrong. As you stated Tidal or Jay Z (whichever) failed to deliver why I should buy the product. I almost felt a bit insulted that the brand thought that I was going to buy into their product without an explanation and just because Nicki Minaj was endorsing it.

    It actually made me feel the opposite. I did NOT want to see what Tidal was, let alone spend any money on it. Unfortunately till this day, I still don’t know the specifics and even more unfortunately I’m not going to inquire either. I think celebrity endorsements are definitely a positive in most instances even though they may not always be necessary but it has to be done right– strategically.

  8. Eric says:

    Thanks for sharing this information on social media during a crisis. Facebook is the perfect example of a company that adapts to what the public wants, and as a result, enjoys the benefit of being one of the most widely used services in the world. Before companies like Facebook launched its Safety Check platform, people were left in the dark about the safety of a loved one.

    Facebook took this as an opportunity to provide a platform that can help people during times of disaster while positioning FaceBook as a company that provides a service to the community. I want to add to this point by saying that Facebook has become so much more than just a communication channel that let’s loved ones know your safe – it has become a platform to record history during some of the world’s most intense disasters. For example, during the Tsunami’s in Japan, FaceBook was used as a way to communicate to loved ones while at the same time capturing the experience that they went through.